'Toxic' beats out 'gaslighting,' 'incel' to become Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year

Credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFT/Getty Images

Credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFT/Getty Images

Oxford Dictionaries has chosen a single word to sum up the mood of 2018: toxic.

The British publisher announced Thursday that “toxic” beat out words such as “gaslighting,” “incel” and “techlash” to become its 2018 Word of the Year.

“Reviewing this year in language, we repeatedly encountered the word ‘toxic’ being used to describe an increasing set of conditions that we’re all facing,” Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries, said Thursday in a statement.

In 2018, Oxford Dictionaries noted a 45 percent rise in the number of times the word "toxic" was looked up on oxforddictionaries.com. The publisher chalked up the increased inquiries to the fact that the word was used in a wide range of contexts over the year.

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“Qualifying everything from the entrenched patriarchy to the constant blare of polarizing political rhetoric, ‘toxic’ seems to reflect a growing sense of how extreme, and at times radioactive, we feel aspects of modern life have become,” Grathwohl said.

The word was often paired with terms such as “substance,” “environment” and “culture,” according to Oxford Dictionaries.

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“Our corpus data shows that, after ‘chemical’, ‘masculinity’ is the most-used word in conjunction with toxic this year,” according to the Oxford Dictionaries website. “With the #MeToo movement putting a cross-industry spotlight on toxic masculinity, and watershed political events like the Brett Kavanaugh Senate judiciary committee hearing sparking international debate, the term toxic masculinity has well and truly taken root in the public consciousness and got people talking in 2018.”

Last year, Oxford Dictionaries chose the word "youthquake," meaning "a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people," as its word of the year.

The publisher’s 2016 word of the year was “xenophobia.”

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